Do you live in a famous town? Yeah, me too. Okay, so Sebastopol, CA (pop. 7,700) doesn't have much to compare to someplace like The Big Apple (pop. 8.3 million). But we do have a lot of apples - Gravenstein Apples that is. We are rather famous for the Gravenstein. The Gravensteins in the West Coast boxes are the best apples in the world (in my not-so-humble opinion), a balance of sweet and tart with a lovely variegated chartreuse skin. It really is a pretty special apple, and endangered enough to be placed in SlowFood USA’s Ark of Taste.
We Sebasto-pudlians like to celebrate our apple. As soon as the fragrance of blossoms hit our nose in spring, we know it’s time to prepare for the Apple Blossom Parade. Scouts practice flag twirling, dachshunds get their costumes ready for the Weiner Dog contingent, and the high school horn section tightens up its “Star Wars” theme arrangement. Anyone can enter and the parade goes on for about three hours. Then the blossoms flutter to the ground and the trees get busy growing apples and we get back to our regularly scheduled lives. Then boom! The apples are here. Gravensteins are the earliest apple in the West, as Ginger Golds are in the East. Apples mean August and August means summer is about over. But little sad faces turn to grins because we put on another party - the Gravenstein Apple Fair. The proceeds benefit the Farm Trails guide to local farms. After the fair, we break down the hay bale benches to use for mulch for next year’s crop, put our feet up on the porch with a nice cold Grav in our hand. When we can’t eat anymore, we start baking pies and making apple sauce.
With somewhere in the neighborhood of 7,500 apple varieties, there is likely a town near you with a special apple. The Espopus Spitzenburg Apple (one of Thomas Jefferson's faves) has its roots in Esopus, near Woodstock in Ulster County, NY. Bethel, VT has the Bethel Apple, Lura Red comes from Bone Gap, IL, the York Imperial's first seedling was discovered in York, PA . Each region has guides and maps to famous farm towns near you, go to localharvest.org to find one.